Hundreds of locals turned out for the annual -- and greatly improved -- Kirkland Christmas Tree Lighting downtown Saturday evening. Even the weather found some Christmas spirit, cheering up just before the celebration began -- it was dry, wind-free and even fairly warm.
By 4 p.m., bands and choirs were already performing on one of two stages set up along Lake Street and Kirkland Ave. The folks from Life Community Church were among the largest group of volunteers handing out jingle bells and blinking light necklaces. Barrel fires warmed hands and buns.
The Kirkland Middle School jazz band opened its set with Jimi Hendrix's Purple Haze, while the Kirkland Children's Music Studio youth choir Andante did several 70's themed Christmas songs. A group of little ninjas from Z Universal Martial Arts Studio performed and even included a funny skit involving the Grinch whom they took down.
Santa arrived somewhat less traditionally this year. He traded his sleigh and reindeer for the strong shoulders of two martial arts afficionados who deposited St. Nick on stage. Though the dismount was slightly awkward, the crowd enjoyed the spectacle. The funniest moment occured when the emcee asked Santa to step aside so that he could introduce some real dignitaries like mayor Joan McBride.
Then, with a 3, 2, 1 and no further ado, the gigantic tree between Hector's and Milagro Cantina was lit. The 2012 Christmas season has officially arrived in Kirkland. Time for joyful hearts and peace on Earth.
Please take a tour of the festivities in the attached photo gallery!